SULLIA: After almost 10 years, honey bees are back in the land of honey in Western Ghats. The reckless use of Endosulfan over the Cashew orchards, Gherkin gardens and several other crops that had a common pest called T Mosquitoes had forced several types of bees to migrate to safer places en-masse.
Though spraying of endosulfan was banned in the area in 2005 itself the residual effect had lingered till recently.
“We don’t know when the bees started returning to the Western Ghat villages, such as Sullia, Belthangady and Puttur, but we have reports from our members that they have resumed apiculture (beekeeping). As a result we are selling the beekeeping boxes like hot cakes,” Managing Director of the Dakshina Kannada Honey Farmers Development Co-operative in Puttur Sridhar Gowda told Express.
“The apiculturists who had given up beekeeping in 2001 due to sudden depletion of bee population were reviving it. While some of them have lost touch, others who were last generation beekeepers are either too old or dead. Many second generation beekeepers were interested in resuming beekeeping. I motivated over 500 young apiculturists in Sullia, Puttur, Madikeri, Sampaje, Buntwal, Belthangady and Mangaluru taluks and in just one year and more than 5,000 units have been re-established,” Champion Beekeeping demonstrator Balakrishna Bhat said.
As a result, the honey collection centres in all these areas have been flooded with honey. Keeping honey processing and purification plants in Puttur, Sullia in Dakshina Kannada, Kundapur in Udupi and Honnavar in Uttara Kannada working overtime confirms the revival, Gowda said. The Co-operative is the only official body exclusively for apiculture in the country.
Over 1,200 cottage industries for collecting honey and value addition to honey have come up in Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Uttara Kannada districts, say officials of the District Central Co-operative banks.
The number of loans taken to set up these home industries have also increased, they pointed out. The state produces not less than 120 tonnes of quality honey in a season.
The honey collected and processed in Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Uttara Kannada have been given the prestigious “Agmark”, which was a stamp of quality. “But the road to get that mark was not easy, the three-tier process and the final product has to be certified by the CFTRI in Mysuru. But the dividends of this certification is that the high value markets in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ernakulum, Pune and even in Gulf countries. And according to our marketing chain the demand was growing,” he said.